fat free opinions on a food centric life

Let Them Eat Cake: Classic Baked Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Creme

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It was another of those fine occasions:  The table was set, the bubbly was chilled, and the appetizers were arranged and ready.  Yes, it was brunch time.  And in this case, a brunch to celebrate friends with whom I’ve worked and who’ve begun yet another school year, sans me.  What must they have thought when they saw these?  Img_3849
No matter. They were very good in spite of their odd appearance — especially the one listing on the right.  No laughing, and don’t get me started on the whole "how do you prepare the chives to wrap them around the zucchini" thing.  It must have been all good, because guests arrived at 11:45 and sashayed out at about 3:30 with smiles on their faces.  Simply hilarious. I loved being around them again.  Nice.

The menu included Strawberries dipped in chocolate and pistachios, Grilled Zucchini Bites with goat’s cheese, arugula, roasted pepper, basil and proscuitto (yes, this would be those odd looking morsels above), a Potato and Basil Fritatta featured in one of the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks (that I added proscuitto to), roasted asparagus with garlic oil, berries with basil and a balsamic reduction, and Donna Hay’s Classic Lemon Cheesecake.  Ahhh…..

You didn’t remember that I was a cheesecake girl?  I love cheesecake, and Donna’s is both simple and delicious.  It has that baked, not sticky sweet characteristic that cheesecakes can often have.  Yes, I said baked.  That’s the type I enjoy.  And guess what?  You can make the entire thing in a food processor.  No bain marie.  No lining the pan.  And sorry, no just cheating and slapping it in the fridge.  That isn’t a cheese cake.  I don’t know what that is.

Someone at the brunch asked what was in the cheesecake because she was interested in the recipe.  I offered the ingredients and she paled.  She is an extremely conscientious individual with respect to her weight and outward appearance.  I do understand, but please remember that no one needs to eat more than a piece, right?  And a treat of this nature is so worth it.  Not decadent.  Just good.

This is a beautiful cheesecake that I promise you will enjoy for many reasons.  Make sure you do make the lemon curd.  It isn’t difficult, either, and is very quick to make.  Add a bit of the marscapone cream I added to finish your dessert off.  Oh, and don’t forget to add the fruit.  It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

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This recipe is from her Flavors cookbook.

Classic Baked Lemon Cheesecake

Ingredients

base
85g (3 oz) plain sweet shortbread biscuits (cookies)
1/2 c. almond meal (ground almonds) available at Trader Joe’s
45g (1-1/2 oz) butter, melted

topping
600g (1-1/4 lb) cream cheese
1 c. sugar
3/4  c. (6 fl oz) sour cream
6 eggs
1 T finely grated lemon rind

Directions

  1. Preheat the over to 140 degrees C (275 degrees F).  To make the base, place the biscuits in a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Place in a mixing bowl with the almond meal and butter and mix to combine.
  3. Press the mixture over the base of a 22cm (9 inch) round springform pan and refrigerate until required.
  4. To make the topping, place the cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream in a food processor and process until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs and lemon rind and process until well combined.
  6. Pour the topping over the base in the pan and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until the topping is just firm to touch.
  7. Cool in the tin and serve in slices with lemon curd (see lemon curd recipe below).

Serves 12
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Lemon Curd

Ingredients

90g (3 oz) butter
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) lemon juice
1 c. caster (superfine) sugar
2 eggs

Directions

  1. Place butter, lemon juice, sugar and eggs in an ovenproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or use a double-boiler).
  2. Stir for 6-9 minutes of until the mixture thickens.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and cool.

Dollop onto cheesecake.

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Mascarpone Creme

Pour 1/2c. heavy cream, 1/2 c. mascarpone and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract into a bowl.  Beat until thickened.  Refrigerate until needed.  Can accompany lemon curd with lemon cheesecake.
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You do know how difficult it is to take photos at these events, right?  So I was only able to get a shot that evening after my huzbink commandeered a piece, and then the next morning when I enjoyed one for breakfast.  Mmmm…(what do they say about natural lighting?  Totally luscious!)

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Yes, in this house, left over dessert constitutes breakfast.  Whatever, Marie Antoinette…

Notes:

  • I used a convection setting.  The cheesecake cooked for 10 minutes longer that what was stated in the recipe because the middle was drooping and didn’t have the described "firm to the touch" consistency.
  • I made it the night before the brunch and cooled it in the pan for about an hour before releasing the ring.
  • Use a paring knife to cut around the rim to prevent tearing.
  • The cheesecake settled into a level-topped surface in an hour or so.
  • This cheesecake is not overly rich or sweet and is delicious by itself or with lemon curd and/or mascarpone cream.
  • It’s the easiest "good" cheesecake I’ve made.
  • The consistency is a cross between creamy and a moist cake-like quality.
  • The shortbread/almond meal crust is very, very pleasant.  A nice diversion from the usual graham crust.